One Step Into The Desert

The question of God – who is he? Is he he? Or what is he? And how do I figure in – seems less vexing lately. Plato is instructive: there is the ideal bed (truth), the bed the carpenter makes (a physical manifestation of that truth), and the poem (or drawing) the artist makes (a representation of the physical manifestation of the truth). In other words, don’t worry about it. Be happy.

So Lent begins . . . A season of opportunity, a season of surprise, a season of longing in which we can rest knowing our satisfaction is promised. I have been thinking of Jesus’ sojourn into the desert – the quiet time of prayer, the radical insight he achieved, the establishment of his ministry. Of course nobody has to follow Jesus, but what joy that path brings to me! In spite of my arrogance and shame, in spite of my fear.

It has been a cold winter. I shoveled for half an hour this morning, back groaning in pain, the dogs bounding back and forth through fluffy drifts, waiting for me to put the shovel down and get on with our walk. Which I did, eventually. The light was beginning in east, the horizon lit up as if by a fire banked just below the hills. I realized yesterday while making an appointment with the farrier, what deep roots my yearning for Spring owns. When she wrote “April 6” down, I could almost see the red buds on the maple trees that line Sam Hill Road. I could hear the brook in its post-winter spate.

Well, that is the kind of winter it has been. And yet not without its spiritual fires – those that warm, those that guide by providing light. I read yesterday in A Course In Miracles, “God’s peace and joy are mine,” and a quiet confidence filled me, led me from one project to the next, much like a baby lamb will totter along beside its mother. Many years ago, in a poem now lost, I wrote: “Joy came to me so quietly I nearly missed it.” How true that is now!

And putting it all to words . . . Not God, nor the feeling of a kind and loving and generous God in a troubled and troubling world, but five paragraphs roughly circling that felt God . . . How helpful can that be? How advisable an effort? And yet I persist. Jesus is clear that we cannot find the Kingdom merely by observation, nor by following those who claim to know it. It feels painfully simple to hoist such a tiny light, merely to illuminate my dopey lover’s smile, yet here you have it. One step into the desert and it feels as if I own wings.

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